Leading by five goals with four and half minutes remaining in the contest, the men’s lacrosse team appeared to have the game all but won. But UMass (3-2) had other ideas, going on a 4-0 run in the final minutes and turning what was a sure defeat into a nail-biter.
Yet the Minutemen couldn’t find the equalizing goal, as Harvard (3-1) hung on for a 14-13 victory over its in-state rival Saturday afternoon at Garber Field.
“We didn’t do a good job of managing the game late,” Crimson coach John Tillman said. “If you have a five goal lead with 4 and half minutes to play, you should not be worried about it being a one goal game…We can’t manage the game the way that we did down the stretch.”
The final 4-0 run by UMass was a fitting end to a game dictated almost entirely by runs.
“I think that both teams are stronger right now offensively than they are defensively,” Tillman said. “If you look at UMass they were one of the top scoring teams in the nation coming in, and we weren’t too far behind them.”
The offensive prowess was apparent from the beginning of the game, as Harvard scored 3 unanswered goals in the first seven minutes of play.
“I thought we came out really hard early,” sophomore attackman Jeff Cohen said. “We jumped all over them.”
Cohen notched two goals on the day, tied for second-best for the Crimson. Junior attackmen Dean Gibbons also scored two goals, while sophomore midfielder Terry White led the way for Harvard, scoring 3 times—his first career hat trick.
“I thought that Terry White had his best game of the year,” Tillman said. “He played very well for us. He played with great heart.”
Freshman Harry Krieger also had a breakout game as goalkeeper, notching a career-high 13 saves, including 9 in the second half.
“[Krieger] started off a little slow, but he played very well down the stretch for us,” Tillman said. “He had some critical saves for us. He did a terrific job”
After the Crimson’s initial offensive surge, the Minutemen responded with two goals by the 4:39 mark in the first quarter. Harvard and UMass exchanged scores before the Crimson closed out the opening frame with another tally to lead 5-3.
The Minutemen opened the second period with a 3-0 run to take a 6-5 advantage, but a goal from Harvard senior midfielder Jason Duboe knotted the game before the half.
“At halftime we just said, ‘Hey here’s the thing—we didn’t play very well at all in the first half, and we’re lucky to be tied,’” Tillman said. “‘Let’s just win the next thirty minutes. Let’s play as well as we can play, correct some our mistakes and just play better-execute better, stay positive, stay together, then we have a really good chance of winning this game.’”
“[The coaching staff] really gave us confidence that we [would] play the way we know we can play [in the second half],” Cohen said.
The Crimson began the third quarter with a goal from Cohen less than two minutes into the period, but the Minutemen answered with 3 consecutive goals over the next six minutes to build a 9-7 lead.
The Crimson responded, off a goal from Cohen with seven minutes remaining in the third period, in what would end up being the turning point of the game.
“We had to come back and respond,” Tillman said. “Getting that next goal was really important, so I think getting that goal to make it 9-8 [was crucial]. All of a sudden we got a little confidence back.”
That score was the first of seven unanswered goals for Harvard, a run that spanned 17 minutes of play before UMass’s last gasp effort fell just shy of tying the game.
“You’re a lot happier going back and teaching and trying to correct after a win,” Tillman said.